Although political participation has received wide-ranging scholarly attention, little is known for certain about the effects of social and political context on turnout. A scattered set of analyses—well-known by both political scientists and campaign consultants—suggests that one’s neighborhood has a relatively minor impact on the decision to vote. These analyses, however, typically rely upon data from a single location. Drawing on official lists of registered voters from sixteen major counties across seven states (including Florida) from the 2000 presidential election, we use geographic/mapping information and hierarchical models to obtain a more accurate picture of how neighborhood characteristics affect participation, especially among partisans. Our research shows that neighborhoods influence voting by interacting with partisan affiliation to dampen turnout among voters we might otherwise expect to participate. Most notably, we find Republican partisans in enemy territory tend to vote less than expected, even after accounting for socioeconomic status. Our findings have implications for campaign strategy, and lead us to suggest that campaign targeting efforts could be improved by an integration of aggregate- and individual-level information about voters.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 15, 2004
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